Hailey Finnigan

A new home for art in Metchosin

Collaborative effort of the school district and municipality finally opens.

The white walls glow under the bright lights of the newly opened Metchosin Art Gallery.

A former elementary school library, the space has been transformed into a gallery for fine art.

Its first exhibit, featuring the works of artist Maggie Cole, opened Aug. 3.

The MAG, as it is known, has been a project of Coun. Jo Mitchell, and the Metchosin Arts and Cultural Centre Association (MACCA).

Helped by a $15,000 grant from the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, the collaborative efforts of the school district and municipality are finally complete.

“I don’t think there’s an exhibition space like this on the West Shore,” MAG curator Hailey Finnigan says. “It’s open, bright. It’s brand new, so I think people are really going to see it for how special it is.”

The gallery covers more than 1,000-square-feet.

Finnigan hopes the space will be used for a variety of purposes, including art shows, film screenings, poetry readings, and workshops.

“I want this space to be a real multi-use space,” she says. “I want it to be used in sort of an unpredictable way, which will be fun and engaging.”

The MAG’s first exhibit, Maggie Cole: A Retrospective, runs Thursday to Sunday until Aug. 26.

Finnigan chose Cole as the gallery’s first exhibitor because she says the artist’s work sets a good tone for the gallery’s opening.

“I don’t yet know who my patrons are going to be,” Finnigan says. “So I want to start off the programming with artwork that is accessible to a lot of people, but also provokes some questions about ‘How does art fit into my life?’”

Cole’s work is a “good jumping off point for art education,” Finnigan says.

But the gallery isn’t just a space for art and education, it’s a place the community can use and share, MACCA’s president Mary Gidney says.

“We want to try and involve the community as much as possible,” she says.  “It’s an art gallery that’s open to lots of possibilities.”

Gidney spearheaded the association’s efforts on the gallery along with fellow board member Colleen Brownlee.

The building, which MACCA took over in 2008, is already home to many artists who have studios throughout both levels of the school.

The idea to construct an art gallery came after artists expressed the need for more studio space, Gidney says.

She hopes people visiting Metchosin will make an effort to include the gallery in their exploration of the community.

“It’s a chance to get to know Metchosin,” she says.

reporter@vicnews.com